For breastfeeding parents, striking that much-sought work/life balance can be especially tricky. When do you feed your baby? When do you pump milk? Where do you pump milk?
Busy mama Kate Hudson, who is both an actress and the co-founder of popular athletic fashion company Fabletics, showed us one way to solve the problem: bring the baby with you and feed her there. Over the weekend, Hudson shared a sweet photo that showed her breastfeeding her 3-month-old daughter, Rani, and added the caption, “When you’re working but [baby’s] gotta eat.”
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Of course, that is hardly a solution for most other working mothers, who don’t have the luxury of bringing their children with them to their jobs — or even, in many cases, having private areas to pump besides a bathroom stall.
But we applaud Hudson all the same for tearing down one more brick in the wall between the fantasy of working motherhood and the reality of it. And we’re not alone in doing so — as of this post’s publication, the photo had garnered over 876,000 “likes” and nearly 6,600 comments on Instagram, many of them celebratory. It also received press coverage from entertainment publications like People.
In our coverage of women entrepreneurs, we’ve noticed time and time again that it often takes a woman to design products and services to help other women, whether it’s disposable bags for tampons or alternative parenting groups and — not the least — better breast pumps.
Last year, I wrote about Stephanie Conduff, who started out as a new mother jugging law school. She finally got fed up with that struggle after a janitor walked in on her pumping inside a library side room during an all-night study session. “I support women’s rights to breastfeed wherever they want — I breastfeed where I want. But when I’m pumping, I don’t love being in front of other people,” she told me. “I want a private space. I want to pump my milk, and then I want to move on with my day.”
The embarrassment of that moment led her to launch Leche Lounge, a Tulsa, Okla., “lactation station” business that makes private lactation booths that are used in offices and businesses throughout the country.
As the response to Kate Hudson’s post indicates, there is a huge market potential for products or services that help breastfeeding working moms. Nearly 4 million babies are born each year in America, and about 80 percent of their mothers choose to breastfeed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And many of those moms go back to work quickly, for economic reasons — in fact, it’s not uncommon for women to cut their maternity leaves short.
We’re glad Hudson has re-started the conversation about breastfeeding at work. We hope more women, especially those in powerful positions, will feel inspired to share their experiences on social media and elsewhere. And we especially hope that entrepreneurs will be motivated to invent more products and services that will help a woefully underserved segment of the U.S. population: working moms.